Edinburgh can be a lonely place throughout August. The city changes from the adorable, inviting pleasantville it can be for the other 11 months of the year to become an intense hive of hussle and bussle. It can be alienating. This is where Markus Birdman swoops in with this hug of a show. To set the scene, the promotion of the show involved sending journalists a small care package of drugs. 'Take one every 24 hours at 9.20pm to prevent hardening of hearts,' it reads, and of course wine, arguably the greatest healer of them all.
Birdman does not disappoint in his promise to cure the gloom that ails us all. He packs his show with more affection, positivity and healthiness than you're ever likely to find in any pharmacy. It's thought-provoking, endearing and it tackles some difficult subjects head on and with aplomb. It's like therapy, a day at the spa, a smile from a cute stranger on a Monday morning, a flash of sun through the cloudy greyness, like finding a fiver in your pocket when you're skint, a sunset, a moment of genuine loveliness that is hard to explain and even harder to capture. Fortunately for us, Birdman has captured this superbly. Funnily positive and positively funny.
Concluding the show was UK comic and former teacher Markus Birdman, whose physical comedy and clear ability to shock from the get-go marks him out as someone to watch. Taking on euphemisms in teachers' reports on pupils, a mocking of the fact the British are everywhere and relationships, Birdman was a veritable hit. When talking of his split with his partner of 14 years, he was quick to pour a degree of scorn on the audience's sympathy with a very cleverly acerbic one-liner ("Thanks for your sympathy, but you've got no idea what happened") making him perhaps the most unpredictable of the night.
Markus Birdman brought along a slight change in energy with his more edgy style of comedy. His material is a little on the crass side so is not for everyone but if you are not easily offended, he is an entertaining act. Talking candidly about sex, relationships and neo-Nazi fashion, he leaves no stone unturned.
I know very little of Markus Birdman. Until he came here to NZ I had not bumped into him on my travels across the comedy circuit in the UK. I wish I had, as I would have encouraged everyone I know in Auckland to join me last night for the opening of his show.
His backdrop alone (which I have bets on that he made himself) is stunning and gives me plenty to think about on life, love and death as we wait for him to take to the stage.
It's a chilly Monday night and there are gaps in the seating as he asks, "How many of you are here because you missed out on tickets to another show?" It is never easy to open a show to a less than jam-packed room of people but his fantastically chatty nature, open face and warm grin has us all enraptured in him fairly smartly.
Love, Life and Death is my favourite kind of comedy show to watch. It is not a ramshackle collection of jokes spilling out in haphazard order, there is a definite structure and Birdman is a deft story teller. Richly mining his own life of its chief tragedies, he takes us on a journey of japes surrounding his various misfortunes and maladies.
At 40 he had a stroke that he mistook for a hangover; he has been both wedged into and hooked up to machines, swallowed tubes and been probed about intravenous drug use and his sexual preferences. His stroke left him a bit blind, and even that has us all in giggles as he explains how awkward having a quadrant of sight missing can be.
Not only has he been ill but he is ‘old' (42); so old that he lingers over cardies, his feet swell on long flights, he is separated, a single dad, he has been best man four times yet doesn't believe in marriage. Despite being raised in the church with a father and an uncle preaching faith, he is an atheist; in fact for a while there he was a Goth. And yes, he did indeed draw the spectacular backdrop telling us, "Six years at art college and this is all I have to show for it."
Not that he wants sympathy. This show is not a "poor me" rant. Markus is philosophical about death, and certainly not afraid of it. His attitudes to his failed faith bring easy laughs for us all. Markus is talking to us about stuff that we are all facing, have faced or will face. In all honesty I believe these are the three biggest reasons why people laugh and for our modest size we are doing so in force.
The second half of the hour sees the pace quicken and laughs gather momentum as he begins to explain his six tips for living. I want you to go and see this show so I will refrain from explaining these, or indeed how he wraps the whole show up. If I had to give you a word, that word would be: beautiful.
This is easily one of the best shows I have seen in the festival so far. For the humanism, the honesty, the journey, the fact that as the butt of every well penned joke Birdman is warm, good humoured, positive. Here is not a hapless victim, here is a man celebrating.
For anyone who has ever been challenged by their health, love or loss SEE THIS SHOW and know that when he says, "Don't worry, this story ends well," he is saying so because at the very deepest level, how any story ends really relies on the open positivity of the teller.
A shot in the arm of life is Birdman, do not dither about booking your ticket. If Auckland knows what is good for it, his season will sell out.
If it is true that the way to avoid death is to be magnificent then I should imagine Markus Birdman will live a good long time, possibly forever.
The highlights, though, came from the comics of more standard fare. James Acaster, with his low-key, droll British delivery had the audience in stitches with his unconventional plan to capture the ice cream truck market, as did Markus Birdman, with his reflection on dating again at 40 years old. Both comedians provided a wry, witty commentary on various aspects of life, and helped lend the evening a degree of credibility that was at times lacking.
Sin-Mae Chung - macandmae.com'If ever you are given the opportunity to see this guy, I fully recommend it, you will be laughing so hard that you would need to catch your breath. And let it be known, you wont be walking away with just an enlightened grin, but with a new outlook on life.'open/close
Markus Birdman performed his most recent comedy Love, Life & Death at The Classic Studio earlier this week. Compared to other shows I had attended this one started earlier than most, 7:15pm, just enough time to rally up a friend to join me for the show after a quick bite at Carl’s Jr (hello bigger waistline).
In all honesty, attending this show was not the original plan. I had selected a list of other comedians whom I thought would be brilliant! But it turned out that one of them had cancelled (yes Margret Cho, I am talking to you *sad face*) and others were happening around and on my birthday. I don’t mean to say that attending a comedy show on my born-day wouldn’t be fun, but I had prior arrangements that I needed to fulfill.
Selecting my new list of comedians to review was hard since nearly all the names given to me were names that I hadn’t heard of. Staring at the list of names was like staring into a void of dust and tumble weed while someone played soundtracks of loud winds on a tape player. However, one name out of the few stood out to me, Markus Birdman. Not because I had seen his name floating around before, but his name sounded kinda cool like he was some bird whisperer or something. So I put my name forward in hopes it would be good, if not I was sure I would still be entertained with his scruffy and handsome face at least.
I had NO Regrets. It was by far one of the most funniest shows I have seen to date. The setting was simple; one corner stage, some curtains, microphone and this really really awesome drawn poster that I couldn’t stop instagram-ing. He appeared on stage quite casual and confident, but not overly cocky. His show was well rehearsed, entertainingly delivered, loaded with quick and witty comments and he was great on timing. He openly spoke of his scary experience of a stroke which he mistook as a hangover, stories of his cute virtuous daughter, and the abnormal size of his genitalia which all of us couldn’t help but laugh at. If anyone could take any tragic story and turn it into a light-hearted joke it would be this guy. Through some grim stories Birdman gives us a lesson to live a fulfilling life, he teaches us to love passionately and follow our dreams, to admire the little things and reflect on achievements. If ever you are given the opportunity to see this guy, I fully recommend it, you will be laughing so hard that you would need to catch your breath. And let it be known, you wont be walking away with just an enlightened grin, but with a new outlook on life.